Council tax could double for Norfolk second home owners

Blakeney

More than 43pc of properties in Blakeney are second homes or holiday homes. - Credit: Antony Kelly

More than 13,000 owners of second homes in Norfolk and Waveney could see their council tax bills double, under a scheme to address fears villages are being ruined by large numbers of empty properties.

Today's Queen's Speech is expected to announce local councils will, from 2024, get powers to impose the extra levy on second home owners and on owners of empty homes.

The move has been welcomed by Norfolk council leaders and MPs, who say communities are being harmed by homes standing empty for long stretches of the year.

They warn absent owners of second homes are contributing little to the county's economic and social life, while local people are being priced out of villages.

Norfolk County Council tax bill. Picture: Denise Bradley

Councils in Norfolk are expected to get powers to levy higher council tax bills on owners of second homes who do not use or let out properties. - Credit: Archant

The extra money raised could be pumped into providing affordable homes and to improve services in communities.

The government is expected to announce councils will be given powers to increase council tax by 100pc on second homes which owners do not live in or let out for at least 70 days a year.

In a separate announcement, long-term empty homes - those not used and unfurnished - will be liable to doubling of council tax after 12 months of standing vacant.

North Norfolk alone has almost 5,400 second homes - the highest proportion in England and Wales outside of London.

Salthouse, which has the highest percentage of second homes in north NorfolkPHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Salthouse, in north Norfolk. - Credit: Antony Kelly

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In Salthouse, 79 out of the village’s 157 homes - 50.3pc - are second or holiday homes. In Morston, the figure is 47.7pc and in Blakeney, 43.3pc.

Duncan Baker, North Norfolk Conservative MP, said: ""As many people know, this has been an area I have campaigned on ever since I was elected, because there are areas of North Norfolk which suffer disproportionately out of season.

Duncan Baker has been chosen as the Conservative candidate for North Norfolk for the next general el

North Norfolk Conservative MP Duncan Baker - Credit: Archant

"This would be very much a first step to enable local authorities to charge higher council tax and use that money to invest in local services to support the communities that are suffering."

Mr Baker added: "It is an important step towards tackling a problem I believe could get worse over the next few years.

"We must not suffer the same problems which have occurred in Devon and Cornwall."

Tim Adams (Liberal Democrats) is standing for Cromer division.

Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council - Credit: Supplied by the Liberal Democrat

Tim Adams, leader of Liberal Democrat-controlled North Norfolk Council, gave a "cautious welcome" to the expected announcement.

He said: "The devil will be in the detail, but we definitely do not have enough powers at the moment in terms of second homes, so I would like to have the option of considering it.

"We do need to have a greater balance when it comes to second homes and councils do need more revenue raising options.

"I'd like to have the option to increase tax on second homes so it could be used to mitigate their impact and to get affordable homes built."

Michael Gove.

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove - Credit: PA

In January, levelling up secretary Michael Gove announced a tax loophole around holiday lets would be closed.

From April next year, second homeowners will have to prove holiday lets are being rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year - and be available for rent for 140 days - to access small business rates relief.

How many second homes are there in Norfolk?

Three of the top 20 local authorities in England and Wales for second homes are in Norfolk, according to Office for National Statistics figures.

In North Norfolk, 9.8pc of housing stock is estimated to be second homes - just under 5,400 homes.

Only the City of London (27.6pc) and Kensington and Chelsea (10.5pc) rank higher.

In 17th place is Great Yarmouth is in 17th place with 4.8pc (2,325), with West Norfolk in 18th place on 4.7pc (3,228).

Norwich has 813 second homes (1.2pc of the stock), South Norfolk 633 (1pc), Breckland 441 (0.7pc) and Broadland 376 (0.6pc).

East Suffolk has 4,113 second homes - 3.4pc of the housing stock.

The impact of second homes

More than a quarter of people who have responded to an ongoing EDP survey about the impact of second homes said they were struggling to buy a house.

And 28pc said they had been forced to move out of the village they grew up in.

Almost 81pc agreed that second homes and holiday lets should be charged higher council tax, with the money raised used on community housing projects.

Nearly 54pc of those who responded said their community had been blighted by the loss of amenities because there was not enough trade to support them all-year-round.

'Prove you care' plea

Ways to ease the cost of living crisis for older people must be announced by the government in today's Queen's Speech, say campaigners.

The National Pensioners' Convention says the government must use the speech to "prove it cares about our oldest and most vulnerable".

Jan Shortt, the convention's general secretary, said: "This is a scandalous situation, and it looks set to get worse.

"We hope the government does not miss this opportunity to save millions from suffering in the coming months."